Page last updated at 06:12 GMT, Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Acpo chief backs police mergers

Police generic
ACPO believes 16 out of 43 forces lose out in the Govt funding formula

The leader of chief constables in England and Wales has called for the amalgamation of forces to save money.

Sir Hugh Orde says amalgamation would reduce costs at a time when police are expecting serious budget cuts.

But the President of the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) told the BBC that political will was lacking.

Policing Minister David Hanson said a white paper to be published shortly would address some of the concerns around amalgamation.

Sir Hugh said forces would face spending cuts of between 10 to 20% over the next few years.

He called for the government to create a fairer system of funding police forces or risk failure of major efficiency savings needed to ensure the police service remained strong during recession.

'Unfair system'

He said that some forces should amalgamate tasks across their geographical boundaries to become more efficient.

Listen to File on 4, BBC Radio 4 2000 GMT, Tuesday 10 November 2009, repeated 1700, Sunday 15 November 2009.
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"Major inquiry teams will cover more than one county," he BBC Radio 4's File on 4.

In addition the number of forces in the UK needed to shrink, he added.

Sir Hugh, the former chief of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, wants ministers to iron out issues arising from the complicated funding formula the Home Office uses to try to decide who gets what among the 43 forces in England and Wales.

Some chief officers have told the BBC the system is unfair because it leaves them short, and creates postcode policing.

But funding overall is at record levels, according to Mr Hanson, who added: "I have to say to chief constables: 'This is the deal at the moment, there may be challenges and difficulties within it, but this is the deal'."

Three years ago plans to amalgamate several forces foundered.

Mr Hanson said any amalgamations in future would have to be voluntary and avoid public concerns over the centralisation of police forces.

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